Two poems by Nuala Ni Chonchuir

Straw Widow

 
Monday is putting in time,
Tuesday, the longest day,
Wednesday, a frisson –
a swell between my legs
while I track your journey
from industrial estate,
to train, to bigger train;
the final stretch is your walk
from the station to home,
and me: your straw widow.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


This Is No Cana
after Stanley Spencer's painting


The wedding breakfast is eaten
and our guests are idling,
there's no handy miracle man
to turn good water to better wine.

My bride is regretful about
the poverty of our feast.

'What can we do?' I say to her,
my mind on our honeymoon:
the raw velvet of her opening,
the soft suck of skin over skin.

'Let them eat cake,' she says,
and I'm glad that I've married her.



* Nuala Ní Chonchúir lives in Galway, Ireland. Her bilingual poetry collection Tattoo:Tatú (Arlen House, 2007) was shortlisted for the 2008 Strong Award. Nuala adds: “Twenty of the poems in English also have Irish versions/translations. In Ireland we call our other language 'Irish'. In Irish it is called 'Gaeilge' (pronounced 'gwayl-ga'). For clarity, and usually only to non-Irish people, we call it Irish-Gaelic. The Gaeltacht is where native Irish speakers live.”

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Katrina has been studying sugar packet art

sugar packet art


Here's my number. You should call me if you ever get bored. You can ask me to coffee. I'll politely ask you if you had somewhere particular in mind, and you'll probably say no. I'll then begin to list off three or four of my favorite coffee shops and you'll probably say that you don't care and that I should pick. I'll ask what part of town you live in and then choose from there (even though all the coffee shops I named off are all on the same street and are within four blocks from each other). I'll give you directions and then when we're about to hang up, I'll remember that we didn't even set a time. “Hey, hold on!” I'll exclaim. We'll settle on the next day. Probably 2-ish…or 7-ish.  

I'll leave my house approximately 25 minutes early. I'll bring a book so that when I arrive too early, I can catch up on my reading. I arrive and I'm exactly 12 minutes early. I'll go to the counter and decide that I'll be up all night if I get coffee (we chose 7-ish) and instead, will get some tea. I can't decide whether I want Jasmine or Green tea, so I settle for Black (after ordering, I'll remember that Black tea has almost the same amount of caffeine that coffee has and will wonder why I didn't just get coffee instead). I'll go and sit down on the couch by the window and will try to look sophisticated holding my cup of tea in one hand and holding my book open with the other. Except my fingers are too weak to hold open the book–there are two inches between the page that my pinky holds and the page my thumb holds. I can't read anything and the book is about to close in on my fingers. Fine. I'll put my tea down.

I'll be able to finally read, but then I won't be able to read. I'll wonder if I should get up and give you a hug when you come. I'll wonder if you really even want to be here, or if you just gave in because I kind of forced you (well, I didn't force you, I just told you that you should). I'll wonder this, I'll wonder that, I'll wonder here, I'll wonder there…I'll wonder anywhere! Then I'll get upset with myself, realizing how retarded I am.  

Then you'll walk in (and without question, you'll probably be absolutely beautiful…like always). You'll look around and then you'll see me sitting at the couch by the window. I'll smile at you and say “Hey, how are ya!” but I won't give you a hug. You'll inform me that you will be back and that you are going to order some coffee. I'll pretend to read when you order (still can't read though). You'll come back with Green tea. I'll assume you thought it was too late for coffee too.  

I'll ask the stupid question I almost always ask, “Did you find the place okay?” Immediately after asking, I'll secretly scowl at my idiotic predictability. You'll probably say that you've passed the place a few times in the past, but have never stopped in. You'll say it's nice and that you like it. I'll say that I'm glad. And I will be.  

About an hour and a half will pass. I'll probably have a handful of delicious “you” tidbits and you'll probably have a handful of retarded jokes that I have tried to make you laugh with. There probably will be sugar packet art all over my side of the table, or little pieces of ripped-up napkin all over (I can't sit for an hour and a half without playing with something). My throat will start to feel a bit dry from all the talking. I'll wonder what will happen next.

That's where you come in.



* Katrina is a girl who lives in Denver, Colorado. Katrina spends her time fighting with her cat and crying when she loses the fights. She also enjoys writing non-sequitur letters to non-sequitur strangers, so email her at sellula@gmail.com if interested.

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New flash fiction by Brian George

SHE
PLAYED ME LIKE A STEEL GUITAR


Winter
trees scrape the cracked sky. Clouds like old bruises mass in the
late afternoon. I walk on.

She
played me like a steel guitar, coaxing out sweet sliding sounds at
will, just for the fun of it, for her own amusement. The rough pads
of her guitarist’s fingers snagged on my skin, set up a friction.
We fought often, drawn back again and again, always with her in
control, cool, scoring the movement in ways I didn’t understand.

In
the street there are houses boarded, steel shutters in place of
doors, pebbledash rendering streaked with black.  Bin bags spew
onto front lawns. A dog eyes me, contemptuous, rasps a bark, runs
off.

Let’s
go away together,’ she’d said.

Where?’

Does
it matter? Got to move on. Find the new.’

So
we went. She knew places, people. They smiled at her, looked away
from me. She smiled at me, told me lies, drew out another tune. I
danced to it. The crowd applauded.

The
crescents, the walks, the closes, all spiral away from me. I stop in
the middle of the estate. A gang of boys look me up and down, laugh,
swagger on, hands in pockets.

We’re
so good together,’ she’d said. ‘We’ve come so far.’

Do
you think so?’

Without
you I’m dross.’

I
believed her.

Wind
whips round the corners of this estate. Mudded slush soaks through my
boots. More dogs and boys are circling round me, ready to move in for
the kill.

I
heard the sound of a country and western ballad float on the breeze,
bright and crushingly sad all at once. She said something into the
wind as she waved. Her smile was bright. I thought she was saying
good luck, but she was saying goodbye.

The
clouds close in.


*

Brian George lives
in Pontypool, south Wales. Fiction in various magazines. One collection published Walking the labyrinth (Stonebridge, 2005). Member of Vanessa Gebbie's online forum the Fiction Workhouse.
 

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New poetry by Gwilym Williams

A couple of months ago (see 15 June posting + cover artwork) we ran a news item about regular IS&T contributor Gwilym Williams' new collection Genteel Messages (Poetry Monthly Press, ISBN 978-1-906357-17-7). About the same time I was reading a book about 'street photography' which argued the point that when the genre first appeared in France in the mid-to-late 19th century, there was a close relationship between the photographs being taken and the 'street poetry' being written by the likes of Baudelaire and Rimbaud. (I know, all go off on a creative writing masters course and discuss.) What particularly appeals to me about this poem from Williams' collection is that reflects that street poetry ethos. Enjoy …Ed.



On Venice Lido


Cargo ships and oil tankers bound for Mestre or Trieste
wait patiently in the queue on the long horizon.

Here in 1912 Thomas Mann's von Aschenbach
fondly gazed upon his handsome hero,
the young and noble Tadzio,
in his novelette Death In Venice.

Today on the Lido there's really not too much to see
beyond those monochrome ships parked in the haze
and the high up clock on the Hotel des Baines.

On the grey sand there's the usual pre-season plethora
of plastic and polystyrene

Thermovisco is nuzzling with Succo e Polpa Pesca

A pigeon pair is inspecting an unzipped can –
Stolichno Bock Beer rusting in a twisty rage of net.

A miraculous light bulb has washed up – glass unbroken.

There's the occasional squawk of a gull out to sea.

A spray – Byron's Mediterranee Deodorante
– do not expose to naked flame – is corroding at the collar.

Half buried I find a Debica Vivo Radial in good condition.

Other curiosities: a solitary pickled onion
and a pair of welding glasses in Day-Glo orange.

A dog floats by; face down; smooth and slick as a seal.

On the long grey horizon nothing is moving.

On the long beach men are assembling
colonies of bathing huts.


* Gwilym Williams

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New concrete poetry by Chris Major

Ever topical, regular IS&T concrete poet Chris Major has a comment to make on recent reports in the UK press that uninsured drivers are killing more people than ever before…

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New poetry by Kerry Hudson

An Economy of Letters


After the phone call my heart turned to blackened honeycomb.
With every sore beat it rained Chernobyl snow down on soft unprepared insides.

Breathe became a baby.
Struggling for enough air to scream out the indignity of helplessness.

Loss. Fuck.
F o u r letters,
brutally succinct.

It’s the shock.
Drink dark tea. Three sugars.
Let the steely sweet coat my tongue.

Limbs curl small,
jammed between my stove and a wall.
A face tilted towards the enduring sky,
too relentless for my eyes to assault.

It chastens.
I become still and mute.
The economy of those letters,
just a small part of the fullness of life.



* Kerry Hudson writes short stories and poems. She is currently working on her first novel in East London in a pile of books and shoes called home.

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Tola Ositelu is feeling confident

Confidence

It runs ahead of me, makes an announcement
And gives a full description
Of who I will be
In the years to come
And I’m still trying to catch
My breath

I wish I could keep up
With my confidence
Fall into step and run alongside
Instead it delights in
Sprinting ahead and jeering
When confronted
‘I’ve been here before you were even born’.

But should I be ungrateful
To such an optimistic friend?

After all, it vouches for me
But in a way that leaves me afraid
That I won’t grow into the hype
Come the day

It disgruntles folk
And they misunderstand
‘Who does she think she is?’
I don’t think anything
It’s just who I am.

Confidence, mmmm
Maybe I should just leave you be
Fight my corner
Make the introduction
Remind the whole world and me
Of how secure I am
Potentially.

* Tola
Ositelu was born in South-East London, 1981 to Nigerian and Ghanaian
parents. She studied law at university and is currently a trainee
solicitor within a local government organisation in North London.  Away
from the day job she can be found organising, hosting and singing at
live music events, seeing as much of the world as her annual leave will
allow her, trying to make her mark in the world of music and literary
freelance journalism, watching plays and attending various musical and
literary events across London. www.tolitasmusings.blogspot.com

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